27 Aug 2019

By Philip

Give Mother Earth the next 18 Months

We share a message from the Plum Village Earth Holder community.

Once we see that something needs to be done, we must take action. Seeing and action go together. Otherwise, what is the point in seeing?

Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Plum Village friends everywhere, 

Earth Holder – An exciting invitation to join thousands of PV friends around the world for coordinated Earth Justice practice! 

The Earth Holder Community has recently put forward a call to action for Plum Village sangha members around the globe to support the young people’s School Climate Strike on Sept 20, as part of the wider Global Climate Strike. We are now adding to this a project we are calling “Give Mother Earth the Next 18 Months.” 

Step One is the invitation to participate in the Sept 20 Climate Strike. There are over 1500 Plum Village sanghas around the world. The young people have committed to a “school climate strike” for that Friday in nearly 5000 communities. The idea is for sanghas or sangha members who are in one of those communities to leave their jobs or regular lives for the day, show up at the appointed time and place to support the young people by offering a silent sitting or walking meditation. We might also offer deep listening opportunities—imagine sitting on a bench or a chair, holding a sign saying something like, “Concerned about Mother Earth? Fellow citizen willing to listen.”

We will also have a PV Earth Holder presence in New York City during the week of Sept 20-27 UN Climate Summit to again offer sitting, walking, and deep listening practices for the public and for any available diplomats. 

Benefits of this coordinated one-day engaged practice? 

The possible benefits of this global day of engaged practice include 

• adding our peaceful support to the courageous leadership shown by the world’s young people (watch this 2 minute video); 

• being part of what is expected to be a massive worldwide outpouring of attention to the climate emergency; 

• participating in a global Plum Village initiative with the chance to share stories, photos, videos, and testimonies with each other through the Earth Holder Community; 

• offering a Buddhist presence to the Earth Justice work; 

• offering the Plum Village practices of being peace to bring peace to the Earth Justice movement and actions, as modeled by Thay and as discussed by Br. Phap Linh and Sr. Dedication in their recent interview with Extinction Rebellion

• growing the numbers of practitioners who want to continue working on climate justice within their spiritual community and come to think of themselves as Earth Holders; 

But then what? Why the next 18 months? 

Obviously, one day of engaged practice is insufficient in itself, so the logical question is “What’s next?” We know the planetary emergency is upon us now. The bad news keeps coming. We are called to practice diligently and to engage in compassionate direct action. The next 18 months hold key important activities that will most likely have a huge influence on the shape of the future: 

• September 2019, UN Climate Summit, and Global Climate Strike 

• December 2019, COP 25 in Santiago, Chile, to further the action of the Paris Climate Accords formed at COP 21 (COP stands for “Conference of the Parties”—countries part of the UN climate framework) 

• Fall 2020, COP 26 in London, UK, in the midst of Brexit negotiations 

• November 2020, Presidential and Congressional elections in the United States 

• Climate justice initiatives in various parts of the world working its way into legislation 

• The continuing worldwide efforts of universities (now at 7000) and local communities (now over 750) to declare “climate emergencies” (for a brief overview, see this report

• The rising leadership of young people through networks like Fridays for Future, Sunrise, Earth Guardians, and Extinction Rebellion 

So it seems there are an infinite number of ways to stay engaged after Sept 20, which is best determined by each local sangha or group of sangha members. Here are some suggestions for the next 18 months: 

a) continue to support local school climate strike activity; 

b) work locally to join the thousands of universities and over 750 local governments to declare a local “climate emergency“; 

c) in the U.S. and elsewhere, support public leaders who support Mother Earth, which might 

include candidates for federal, state, provincial, and local elected office; we will use kind and unifying speech, deep listening and respectful dialogue while trying to give Mother Earth more partners in government. 

d) Join an Earth Holder team on its project management platform called Basecamp

e) Continue to look for opportunities to bring the engaged practices of being peace, mindful right speech, non-divisiveness and non-violent action of our community into the climate justice movement and actions. 

f) Other? 

The new element is that, rather than acting alone, we will be communicating as a mahasangha. Through the Earth Holder Community, we can share our efforts, post photos and resources, inspire each other by posting on the Earth Holder Facebook page, make new friends across the globe, deepen awareness and experience in applied Buddhism, and build our engaged practice muscles. A wonderful opportunity! 

Contact Simona Coayla-Duba, Earth Holder Community Coordinator, for more information, at simona.coayladuba@gmail.com. 

In gratitude, 

the Earth Holder Community Compassionate Direct Action family